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Student workers. Am I off?
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Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Student workers. Am I off? on 09/04/2012 19:26:47 MDT Print View

I have had students ( college) assigned to work with me as a community service, for pot and alcohol offenses. I have also had paid student workers that have and are still working with me at the college.
The ones that were working for free and as a punishment I have sometimes allowed to leave a little early if they did well and we just finished a job.
When it comes to paid student workers I give them a very flexible schedule, as long as we communicate well, but I do not let them go early and still paid by " our" employer.
Turns out I am almost alone and apparently not nice enough to them. This not according to the students, but according to co workers.
I maintain that even if they are great workers I don't need to give them hour long breaks and allow them to leave half hour early regularly, while getting paid for a full day's work.
I like working with the "kids" and try and teach them as much as I can and make work interesting. I don't get why I should reward them by letting them get paid for not working, with someone else's money.
Am I missing something? Would you let a very hardworking student leave early on a regular basis and take hour long lunches- paid?
Am I off?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Student workers. Am I off? on 09/04/2012 19:31:34 MDT Print View

So do these coworkers have children the same age as these students? The earlier they learn that there is no free ride the better.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Student workers. Am I off? on 09/04/2012 19:44:19 MDT Print View

Heck no. How many jobs in real life will they find with paid lunches and "Oh go home! You worked 5 hours, but you deserve 8 hours!!". ;-) Entitlement at all? Nothing wrong with being a fair boss - even if you are not the "cool" boss - somewhere out there future employers will thank you.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Student workers. Am I off? on 09/04/2012 19:44:30 MDT Print View

When I was a student on my first job, one of my co-workers asked the boss if he could leave his shift an hour early. The boss responded that it would be OK, but did he expect to work an extra hour on the following day to make it up?


Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Regulations on 09/04/2012 19:45:55 MDT Print View

I'd read the human resources regulations governing employees breaks/lunch/dismissal times and see how much leeway a supervisor is given first. If there are no set times, such as mandating 15 minute breaks every 2 hours, or a certain time for lunch, then you are probably OK.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re on 09/04/2012 19:51:06 MDT Print View

Ken, some of them have no, little or older kids.
Bob, I don't see a problem with making up time, but that is not the issue in this case. We are talking about not working between one and one and a half hours a day, regularly, while getting paid do a full shift.
HK, regulations do not allow for this.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Regulations on 09/04/2012 19:56:05 MDT Print View

+1 with Sarah.

Edited by kthompson on 09/04/2012 19:58:04 MDT.

Stephen P
(spavlock) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
. on 09/04/2012 19:57:27 MDT Print View

I was once a student worker. I punched the clock just like every other hourly employee.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re on 09/04/2012 20:02:37 MDT Print View

Sarah, I missed your post. I agree with you. I think One can be a great boss without giving away freebies.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re on 09/04/2012 20:25:48 MDT Print View

"Bob, I don't see a problem with making up time, but that is not the issue in this case."

That is the issue that the boss was trying to convey. If you want to get off early today by an hour, then expect to work an extra hour tomorrow to make up for it.

Nobody just gets off an hour for nothing. If you completely miss hours, then there will be a slight dent in the paycheck.


Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
You're right on on 09/04/2012 20:31:15 MDT Print View

I don't think I've er been paid for not working, or for taking an hour or two off while getting paid. That's not how the real world works.

They're students - teach them reality!

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Results, not time served on 09/04/2012 21:41:22 MDT Print View

There's a generational difference I've observed at work over the last few years since my company started hiring college grads again. And we, the direct supervisors and managers, are being instructed on how to 'accept' the working norms of our younger colleagues. Mostly apologetic nonsense written by members of a generation that palmed their kids off on others because they were so self-absorbed. What I see is the use of every means possible to glean the 'right' answer from a social network rather than figure it out for themselves. There is no comprehension of why taking these shortcuts doesn't prepare them to be leaders of the future.

Still, there is one positive trait I see from the generation entering the workforce now - many of the higher achievers view assignments in terms of achieving results, rather than punching the clock for an allotted number of hours a day. If they can deliver in 5 hours what it takes another person 8 hours, then why shouldn't they be paid by the result (higher reward) rather than the time served (lower reward)? Won't that motivate them to find efficiencies, challenge conventional wisdom, and move past incrementalism that gets in the way of innovation? As a manager, I judge my team by the results they achieve, but my leadership requires a minimum number of hours billed due to the way our client contracts are written. It's a fine line to tread.

Kat, if you believe that your student workers are delivering the quality and quantity of output in fewer hours than other employees are achieving, then by all means reward them appropriately. But make sure they understand it's a privilege, and it has to be earned. No shortcuts. Conversely, if they are slacking off, spending otherwise productive time texting and posting to Facebook how much their job sucks, then can you find a way to turn the task at hand into a positive challenge that will engage them?

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Results, not time served on 09/04/2012 21:59:59 MDT Print View

This isn't that kind of a job; it's physical work and there is a lot to do. I don't have the authority to send people home; others do it anyway. I try and make our work meaningful and enjoyable and the students seem to get something out of it. It's the co workers that seem to think I am not doing right by the kids.

a b
Time is money on 09/04/2012 22:19:58 MDT Print View

I have held over twenty different jobs in my life so far.
Never once did I expect to be paid for one minute longer than I worked.
Some of my jobs required "clocking in" and some were the "honor system".
Currently i have to keep careful track of my hours on an "honor sytem".
At the end of each pay period i submit my hours and the explaination for the time required for each job completed.
Because of the extreme trust showed to me by employers over the years i have never once been tempted to fudge the hours.

Here is something an old timer carpenter told me once: "Son, never apologize for your paycheck."
He was right... so long as the effort I put forth is genuine and the job gets done right, I have nothing to be ashamed of for earning my wage.
It is a sacred covenant between a worker and employer and (spoken like a true worker bee..) the sooner kids learn this the better off they will be. (bee?)

One of the reasons i can always find work is the solid work ethic imposed by my grandfather and father.
"You don't get what you don't work for."
Those words have kept me feed and housed and living well enough for my adult life even without a college degree.
So i don't think those words, or that concept could do anything but help a college educated and real world bound student.

Kat, I think you are doing the right thing by sticking to principal.

Allowing the "un-paid" workers to leave early might be sending a mixed message to the "paid" workers though.
If they do the same job they should work the same hours regardless of whether they are paid in money or working off a debt.

I say; good on you, for sticking to principal and preparing young folks for the realities of the working world ahead of them.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Results, not time served on 09/04/2012 22:29:12 MDT Print View

Kat - point taken. Not all jobs are about creative problem solving. It sounds like the problem is that your coworkers don't agree with your methods. Are they getting the results that you and your team are achieving? Out of interest, what generation(s) are your coworkers? Are they relatively close in age to their direct reports? Do they act as supervisors, praising employees who deliver beyond what's expected, and pointing out deficiencies? Or do their actions indicate that they want to be liked by their direct reports? If it's the latter, then they are shirking their responsibilities. You seem to want to impart the lesson that, if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well.

Sadly, I am not surprised that some unpaid workers are more conscientious that those that are earning a wage. There's a big difference in motivation between vocation and avocation. If it's a passion or a redemption for transgressions, the task at hand will often be viewed very differently than if it's a straightforward transaction - time for money. That wasn't the case in the era of apprenticeships, when the employee was paid more in terms of knowledge and experience than cash. Entitlement has a lot to do with it, but I don't think it's just the current generation that can be faulted for their attitudes.

The Stephen Wright quote "Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it." speaks volumes to me. Paying one's dues is part and parcel of gaining the experience to handle more complex situations.

Edit: Agreed with Matthew's comment that you need to be fair and even in your dealings with paid vs unpaid workers. I didn't read that into your opening post, but if you are demonstrating favoritism (intentionally or otherwise) to one set of employees, it will engender resentment among the others.

Edited by lotuseater on 09/04/2012 22:35:49 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Re: Results, not time served on 09/04/2012 22:38:13 MDT Print View

Stuart, my coworkers range from mid 40's to 60's. Some definitely want to be "cool" and popular but say they just do it to rewrd good workers. Another feels like a parent, so they say, and likes to give rewards to the "kid". A couple others, I think, have problems sticking to a schedule themselves and some just don't want to deal with students after having some that are more work than help.
I like working with students and I like to think that I am doing right by them without having to reward them like that.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Results, not time served on 09/04/2012 22:56:22 MDT Print View

Kat - Then I stand by my comment that your coworkers are part of the problem, and their actions are doing a disservice to the students in the long run. You won't gain respect from your direct reports by 'being cool' or rewarding them for simply showing up. Oftentimes, respect is earned in retrospect. Stick to your guns. Don't listen to the nattering nabobs of negativism.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Student workers. Am I off? on 09/07/2012 10:18:50 MDT Print View

Kat P,

When your co workers say that you're not 'nice enough' to the student workers are you sure they're referring to the hours worked / schedule? Could they be referring to how you interact with the student workers?

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Student workers. Am I off? on 09/07/2012 10:37:58 MDT Print View

Oh no Chad. I have a really good rep with my student workers. One of them can only work with me till the end of this month , because he graduated, and he wishes he could stay on with me. Another that was assigned to me for community service is coming back to volunteer with me. I enjoy working with them and put a lot of energy into making their work a good experience including teaching them the things that make me in awe and appreciation of our surroundings. Some of the " nicer" worker's students have asked to transfer to me, since it seems like we have interesting projects that we get into and finish, including rock work.
Yours is a legitimate question, and there will be a day that a student feels I am not a pleasant person to work with/ for, but I have been lucky so far and have received really posititive feedback.

Edited by Kat_P on 09/07/2012 17:35:53 MDT.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Student workers. Am I off? on 09/07/2012 11:10:27 MDT Print View


I think you have a great outlook on the situation. IMO letting them go early *with* pay is essentially stealing the college's money unless approved by someone with the authority to do so. There are so many other ways to motivate and reward your team members without letting them go early or giving them with some sort of gift.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 09/07/2012 11:12:32 MDT.